Lemon Thyme and Ginger

Easy Dinner Recipes for the Family

Easy Dinner Recipes: Seared Fish Tacos

At times the hustle of the day’s events makes preparing a family dinner challenging. Preparing a balanced meal of a protein, vegetables and healthy carbohydrates takes time, especially when you cook with a lot of plant-based foods. Are there any solutions for making dinner that is easy to prepare and doesn’t require a lot of time slaving over a stove? Yes, there are. Listed below are links to easy dinner recipes found on my website for a quick and easy reference.

What is an easy dinner? A dinner recipe that requires little prep work and comes together in a reasonable amount of time. There are a couple of solutions to make dinner easier to put together. One short cut is, buy produce already chopped. Many grocery stores offer a wide selection of produce already chopped and ready for cooking. Each item may cost more, but if buying prepared vegetables is the difference between making dinner or not, it is worth the price. I do not usually buy cut up produce because these days I am mostly cooking for two. However, I cannot ignore how buying prepared vegetables saves a lot of time. It is my opinion, the value of cooking and eating a home cooked meal is significant, especially when compared to eating take out dinners.

Another time saver is make dinner in one pan. Sheet pan, or one pot dinners often require minimal prep, work and everything cooks on (or in) one pan. This also makes clean-up a lot easier as well.

All of these recipes easily come together with little prep work, or cooked in one pan or pot, or take a minimal amount of time to cook. Enjoy!

 

Easy dinner Recipe Post, Spanish inspired Mussels

Easy dinners: Shellfish

One of my favorite easy dinner recipe is my Spanish Inspired Mussels with Chorizo Sausage. The mussels are cooked in a broth of tomatoes, garlic, wine and Spanish chorizo sausage. The broth comes together in about 20 minutes and the mussels take 5 minutes to cook. I never served this meal to young children, but many adults love this. It is great for entertaining a small group of friends, because you can cook the sauce ahead of time then cook the mussels 5 minutes before you want to eat dinner. Serve with good crusty bread to soak up the juices and a tossed salad. For a vegetarian option, omit the chorizo sausage.

Sautéed Sesame Shrimp with Spinach is another supper easy dinner recipe. This recipe is an older one of mine, but the shrimp and spinach cook up quickly and with little effort. Serve with white or brown rice or your favorite grain.

 

Easy Dinner Recipes: Fish Tacos with Mango and Avocado salsa

Easy dinners: Fish

I honestly believe all my fish recipes on Lemon Thyme and Ginger are easy to make. By nature, fish does not require a lot of cooking time. They are an especially easy dinner to make when the fish is cooked in a pouch of parchment paper or aluminum foil. Rainbow Trout with Lemon and Dill and Oven Poached Salmon with Spinach Butter Sauce are both prepared en papilloteSole Stuffed with Herbs is similarly prepared, but it is not tightly sealed in a neat package.

Fish Tacos comes together easily when you buy the cabbage already sliced for coleslaw.

 

Easy Dinner Recipe: roasted curry chicken with potatoes and raisins.

Easy dinner: Chicken

Another favorite easy dinner are sheet pan meals. I particularity like to use chicken when I make a sheet pan dinner, either bone in or boneless work. The boned chicken will take longer to cook but the chicken does not dry out as much, especially with chicken breasts. If you want to go the boneless, skinless chicken route, use chicken thighs, breasts dry out too easily. Roasted Curry Chicken with Potatoes and Raisins has minimal prep and is delicious paired with blanched broccoli, green beans or a salad. Oven baked Chicken with Shallots and Fennel is another easy chicken dinner baked together on one sheet pan.

 

Easy Dinner recipes: Lamb chops

Easy Dinner: Meat

One of my favorite marinades for meat is the sherry marinade used in Grilled Sherry Marinated Flank Steak. It also tastes great with pork tenderloin. Both types of meat benefit from a flavorful marinade. I like to marinate the flank steak over night, but if you want place the flank steak in the marinade first thing in the morning, it will taste just as delicious. If the current weather prohibits you from grilling, pan grill the flank steak on the stove top. You get more browning and caramelized flavor using a grill pan vs the broiler.

The easiest of all meats are lamb chops. They are delicious and quickly cook on a grill or stove-top within a matter of minutes. My recipe for Lamb chops: An early fall harvest dinner for two, describes how to cook lamb chops. In the winter, you can substitute the summer and fall vegetables in this recipe with any vegetable recipe on the blog like, Sweet and Spicy Herbed Carrots, or Green Beans with Roasted Onions.

 

Easy dinner recipes: Pasta with spicy brussels sprouts and sausage

Easy dinner: Pasta

The fastest and easiest cooked tomato sauce I know is Marcella Hazon’s, Tomato Sauce with Rosemary and Balsamic Vinegar. Tomatoes, garlic, extra virgin olive oil, rosemary and balsamic vinegar come together for a silky sauce perfect for penne or other tube-shaped pasta. It makes for a light supper, but a satiating one at that. It also tastes delicious over polenta. If you want a more substantial red sauce and pasta meal, make Pasta with Turkey Meat Sauce.

This time of year Brussels sprouts are easily found at most grocery stores, Pasta Dinner with Spicy Brussels Sprouts and Sausage is a real crowd pleaser, especially for the meat lover in your family. For a vegetarian option substitute the sausage with chickpeas or cannellini beans.

 

Easy dinner recipe: Basil Zucchini Frittata

Easy dinner: Eggs

Often when we are in a hurry or low on food, we make a frittata. Basil and Zucchini Frittata is a great quick and easy dinner for the summer, but in the winter substitute the basil and zucchini with left over Brussels sprouts with pomegranate glaze. Or, make a pasta frittata with left over pasta with turkey meat sauce.

Omelets are another easy dinner choice. However, I prefer to make one omelet at a time as opposed to one big omelet, sliced into individual servings.

 

Easy dinner recipes: Silver Palate chocolate cake

Easy Dessert Recipes:

Swedish Apple Pie is so easy, someone who insists they cannot bake, will have success with this recipe.

Yogurt Panna Cotta is also easy to put together. You can make a spiced fruit sauce with any seasonal fruit.

If a cake is what you want, Silver Palate Chocolate Cake was my go to dessert for many years.

 

If you make any one of my recipes I would love to hear from you. You can share a photo on my Facebook page, or on your Instagram feed and tag me @lemonthymeandginger.

 

© 2018, Ginger Smith- Lemon Thyme and Ginger. All rights reserved.

Spanish Inspired Mussels with Chorizo

Spanish Inspired Mussels with Chorizo Recipe

It won’t take long to muscle your way through a big bowl of these spicy mussels. Chances are, your bowl will be empty before you realized you started. Eating this shellfish can consume ones’ attention, especially when they are steamed in wine, garlic, and spices. No one wants to miss out of getting every drop and morsel of the flavorful broth. It is a fun and messy affair, but well worth it.

Spanish Inspired Mussels with Chorizo Recipe

Spanish Inspired Mussels with Chorizo Recipe

I have grown to realize people either love mussels, or refuse to eat them. In the past, clams and oysters had a better reputation, because eating mussels was considered risky behavior. Only Gods like Hercules should eat them, for they were invincible to everything. For the longest time, I was a member of that camp. They just did not appeal to me. Fortunately, I have grown-up and changed my attitude.

Spanish Inspired Mussels with Chorizo

When I was a child, I saw mussels everywhere anchored to pillars, rocks and boats throughout the intertidal zone. I believed they were the strangest creatures around. At low tide, I would play under the docks, looking for the perfect skipping rock and other hidden treasures. I saw colonies of mussels tightly glued on pillars, like bunches of grapes ready to be picked. Purposefully, I would attempt to pull one off, and always fail. How they managed to cling so tightly to every surface along the shoreline intrigued me. Their beards were thin and stringy, and I was dumbfounded at the holding strength of the tiny fibrous strands. If someone told me back then, mussels were alien creatures from another galaxy, I would have believed them. The thought of eating these sea creatures never crossed my mind.

Spanish Inspired Mussels with Chorizo Recipe

Several years ago, I was researching healthy foods and mussels kept showing up as a superfood. Based on my research I became more open-minded to try them. After all, how can I have an opinion on something I know nothing about? Fortunately, I did change my mind, because now I love them. Unlike clams, they are very tender and slightly sweet with lots of protein, low in fat, and tons of beneficial nutrients.

There are many ways I like to prepare mussels, and this recipe with chorizo sausage is just one in a collection. One of the best aspects of cooking with mussels, is you do not really need a recipe to create a delicious meal. Exact amounts are not necessary. Put them in a pot with a little liquid and garlic and you have an easy dinner. My recipe is a little more involved than that, but still simple to execute. I have written this recipe as a guideline for you to learn the process and hopefully inspire you.

Spanish Inspired Mussels with Chorizo Recipe

Tips for Success Cleaning and Eating Mussels

Where to get mussels? If you are lucky enough to know a secret spot along the coast where you live, this will be your freshest option. Please only take what you need and be aware of the health of the waters you harvest in.

The most available option is to buy mussels at the store. The ones that are most common are from, Prince Edward Island, Canada. Mussels from PEI are farm raised, reliable and sustainable. They are also a great bargain with a 2 lb bag costing around $7.00. Harvesting date and best used by dates are provided on the label of each bag.  Ask the fishmonger to pack them in ice, if they have not already done so.

Spanish Inspired Mussels with Chorizo Recipe

Care and cooking: As soon as you get home, take the mussels out of the plastic bag and store loosely in a bowl covered with a kitchen towel. Put the bowl immediately in the refrigerator. No plastic wrap, and not submerged in water. If you are keeping them in the refrigerator for a couple of days, pour out any accumulated water from the bottom of the bowl.

When you are planning to cook the mussels, inspect each one and clean them. Most farm raised mussels come cleaned, but they still need a once over for stray grit and beards. Run cold water over the mussels and inspect for broken shells, grit and the beard along the straight edge of the shell. Slice off any stray beards with a sharp paring knife.  Throw out any mussels with broken shells.

If a mussel shell opens, tap the top of the shell with your finger. If the shell does not close, throw it away. Store the clean mussels in the refrigerator in a bowl loosely covered with a towel until you are ready to cook them.

Spanish Inspired Mussels with Chorizo Recipe

Spanish Inspired Mussels with Chorizo Recipe

Spanish Inspired Mussels with Chorizo

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 35 minutes

4 large main course servings, or 8 first course servings

Spanish Inspired Mussels with Chorizo

Mussels steamed in wine, tomatoes, garlic and spices creates a delicious broth that will have you licking your fingers. The chorizo adds some warmth and kick to the mussels, providing more depth of flavor. If you are cooking for non pork eaters, this meal is just as delicious without the sausage. Serve with a salad and lots of crusty bread to soak up all the sauce. You will need extra napkins.

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs / 1k mussels
  • 2 Tbs olive oil divided
  • 1/2 lb / 225g chorizo sausage
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 6 medium size garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1-1 1/2 cups / 250 - 375ml dry white wine like sauvignon blanc
  • 8 tomatoes from a 28oz can of whole tomatoes (or 8 fresh plum tomatoes)*
  • 1/2 tsp Kosher salt
  • Small pinch of saffron
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1 bay leaf
  • two sprigs fresh thyme, tied with kitchen string
  • Finely grated zest from one lemon, and juice from half a lemon
  • 1 long strip of orange zest (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp granulated sugar
  • 4 oz / 125g watercress, or arugula, or swiss chard, thick stems removed and rouch chopped

Instructions

  1. Before cooking, clean and inspect the mussels. Check for grit and stray beards. Discard any mussels that have broken shells and the ones that the shells remain open after tapping them with a finger. Put the cleaned mussels in a bowl loosely covered with a cloth, no plastic wrap, in the refrigerator until you are about to cook them.
  2. Remove the casings from the sausage. Pour 1 Tbs of olive oil in a Dutch oven and turn the heat up to medium high. Add the chorizo sausage and cook, stirring often to break the sausage up. Continue to break up the chorizo while the sausage cooks to get different size pieces that resemble cooked ground beef. Remove the chorizo from the pot and reserve for later. Taste the cooked chorizo to see how spicy the sausage is so you will know how to adjust the seasoning for your broth.
  3. Add the remaining olive oil and turn down the heat to medium. Add the minced shallots and cook, stirring occasionally so the onions don't brown. Cook the sausage until they soften and look translucent, then add the garlic and red pepper flakes. Stir and cook until the garlic begins to release its scent, about one minute.
  4. Pour in 1 cup / 250 ml of white wine and deglaze the pan. Allow the wine to boil down slightly for a couple of minutes. Add the bay leaf, thyme bundle, pinch of saffron, orange zest, and lemon zest.
  5. Cut the tomatoes into irregular bite size pieces, then add the tomatoes to the pot with the wine and onions. Reserve the juices from the can to thin the broth if necessary.
  6. Bring the tomatoes to a boil then turn down to a simmer. Simmer the tomato sauce for 15 minutes so all the flavors blend. Half way through the simmering, taste the tomato sauce and adjust the seasoning as needed. You may need a small pinch of granulated sugar, (1/2 tsp) if the tomato sauce tastes to sharp. Add more salt, paprika and red pepper flakes if more punch is needed, or based on how spicy the chorizo is.
  7. After the tomato sauce has simmered taste for the balance of flavors. Add more wine if the sauce need to be a little thinner. The mussels will also emit their own juices so don't make the sauce thin. Add the cooked sausage and turn the heat up to medium high. Bring the sauce to a full boil then add the mussels. Cover with a tight fitting lid and cook for 5-7 minutes, or until all the mussels have opened. No peeking under the lid for the first 5 minutes.
  8. Serve immediately in bowls with crusty bread and a spoon, and lots of napkins. Mussels are best eaten the same day it is made.

Notes

If you want to cook with fresh tomatoes, cut plum tomatoes in half and remove the seeds. Rough chop the tomatoes for irregular shaped pieces.

The meal can be made ahead of time up to the point of adding the mussels. Keep the tomato sauce in the pot covered in the refrigerator if you will be saving it for longer than one hour. Keep the mussels in the refrigerator up to the minute you are ready to add them into the pot to cook.

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